Home > Skincare Articles > ★ Nappy rash and ways to prevent and treat it.

Nappy rash is a very upsetting sight for parents and a painful experience for our babies. It is commonly believed to be caused when a baby's skin has been exposed to a wet or dirty nappy for too long and this is definitely a primary cause for nappy rash but there are two other lesser known causes of nappy rash. These are Thrush, a yeast infection also known as Candida and Contact Dermatitis caused by exposure to the chemicals inside disposable nappies, baby wipes, baby cleansers, nappy barrier creams and even nappy rash treatment creams.

For this article I’d like to focus on the lesser known causes of nappy rash and the lesser known solutions, ways to prevent it and the gentle, natural ways I have found over the years of treating it.

First of all, lets look at some of the symptoms of nappy rash..

● Inflamed skin – the skin around the genital area and anus looks red, sore and moist.
● Rash- small raised inflamed bumps
● Blistering – the skin may blister and then peel, leaving raw patches (ulcers).
● Spreading – the rash can spread onto the tummy and buttocks.
● Ulcers – small ulcers may form on healthy skin near the area of the rash.
● Fractious, unhappy baby unable to settle.

As we can all imagine, nappy rash is very uncomfortable especially when urine comes into contact with the rash and during a nappy change when the skin is being cleaned. In all cases of painful nappy rash where improvement within 48 hours is not evident professional advise should be sought.

Causes of Nappy rash

① Sitting for too long in a soggy full nappy- In general urine is sterile and healthy wee should not have a strong smell and it should be pale in colour. Ammonia is a powerful smelling chemical that is irritating to skin. It is created when bacteria and urine is present and especially when urine and faeces get mixed together for an extended time. This type of rash is characterised by red inflamed skin that is concentrated in the creases, there can be a rash of red lumps, and the skin can look shiny, sore and moist. With quick and careful management improvement can be seen within hours and certainly within a day or two at the very most.

② Allergic dermatitis- Chemicals in our everyday baby products can very easily aggravate a simple case of nappy rash and turn it into something much worse that takes far longer to treat. Allergic nappy rash can last weeks instead of hours or days.

③ Thrush- Also known as Candida is a systemic fungal infection that can crop up very quickly and is more likely to appear if antibiotics have been needed recently for an infection by mum or baby. This rash can look more like a sand paper rash, tiny pimples clumped together over an area but it can also look like regular nappy rash with area’s of red raw skin.

④ Plastic pants and plastic coated nappies – these are very useful for keeping baby’s clothes clean and dry, but they also prevent air circulating causing the perfect environment for nappy rash to flourish.

Secondary causes of nappy rash


① Teething- when our babies teeth begin to push through the gum, this natural process can cause very mild toxemia which is why teething is sometimes accompanied by bouts of fever. It is a natural process and our babies immune systems are up to the task of eliminating these natural waste toxins via the excretory organs, this process can make the urine more likely to cause irritation and as diarrhea sometimes accompanies teething this too can be more irritating to the skin.

② Illness - Feeling under the weather can make our babies more susceptible to skin rashes. Our skin is our largest organ and it functions both as an organ and as an excretory gland. This means that the immune system will use the skin as well as the kidneys to eliminate unwanted waste or toxins from the body in an attempt to restore balance.

How can we prevent nappy rash..

Prevention is of course always the best approach and here are my some of favourite suggestions. I hope they are useful.

♥ When your at home, leave your babies nappy off for as long as possible, this has the added benefit of encouraging early potty training as well as saving money on nappies.

♥ Reserve the use of disposable nappies for situations where cloth nappies are not practical. This benefits the planet and your purse as well as babies bottom.

♥ Does a nappy laundry service operate in your area? if not and you can find a group of parents who would like the service to deliver to your area consider contacting your nearest provider and requesting they consider expanding their service into your area. Nappies that are laundered professionally are cleaned to hospital standards and rinsed twice. Don’t wash cloth nappies by hand it’s next to impossible to get them clean and rinsed properly. Tumble drying makes them softer than air drying.

♥ Whenever possible wash your babies bottom in a bowl or even in a sink, this may sound wrong to you but if you think about it for a moment it the absolute best way of making sure your babies bottom is cleaned properly. Do not use cleansers or soap of any kind. Water especially if it is warm is more than sufficient. Dry babies skin well before applying a barrier product before putting on a nappy.

♥ Try not to use baby wipes and if it’s unavoidable use the sensitive unscented variety, organic where possible. Conventional baby wipes are the cause of many a nappy rash. Accumulation toxicity is the build up of chemicals to levels that cause a delayed allergic dermatitis. Just study the ingredients on the pack and type the product into the skin deep website if you need convincing. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

♥ Use a natural non scented nappy balm applied after every nappy change.
This is all I ever used on each of my 3 children. Many natural nappy balms and nappy rash treatment creams contain essential oils, or synthetic fragrances but these are a bad idea in baby products because babies skin is so absorbent and the risk of accumulation toxicity can lead to other skin complaints.

My favourite non scented Nappy Balm is my own Rosehip & Pomegranate Antioxidant Skin Survival Balm. It contains CO2 organic extracts of Rosehip, Raspberry, Pomegranate, Calendula, Chamomile and Rosemary in an organic Shea butter base which provides effective anti inflammatory herbs and antioxidant vitamins that help protect your babies skin and offer a breathable non suffocating barrier against irritation without any hidden chemicals that can accumulate over time.

There are several other remedies that over the years I have discovered and passed on as safe and effective treatments for nappy rash and sore skin conditions. These are..

Aloe vera gel is well known as as a skin soother for burns and sunburn but it’s also brilliant as a natural anti fungal for nappy rash caused by thrush. The type of Aloe vera gel is important as many are perfumed and contain chemicals or have been heated. My favourite Aloe vera gel is made by Higher Nature and it is called Aloe Gold. It’s triple concentrated and I speak from years of experience when I say it is the perfect Aloe vera gel for treating skin conditions.

Sea salt- A solution of just 0.9 sea salt or himalayan pink salt is remarkably soothing and healing to the skin. This can be added to the bath.

Apple cider vinegar- Adding a 250 ml of organic apple cider vinegar to a babies bath will not sting. It is soothing when diluted in this way and helps to fight candida by correcting the skin’s pH balance.

Natural (sugar free) Live Yogurt- Applying a thick layer of live natural yogurt as you would a nappy treatment cream is a known cure for thrushy bottoms.

Probiotics- Specialist probiotic producer Bio Kult have been formulating probiotics for many years. Sprinkling powder on your babies tongue can help resolve thrushy bottoms fast. http://www.bio-kult.com/

Rolled oats- Dry, sore, cracked and inflamed skin can obtain relief from wrapping a cup of organic rolled outs in some muslin and leaving it to soak in the bath. When my babies were small, they all suffered with sensitive eczema prone skin. I didn’t bother with the muslin cloth I would just put 2 cups of rolled oats straight in the bath. It has remarkable skin soothing properties.

Vitamin C Skin Gel- Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid is too unstable and acidic to use directly on skin but a safe and gentle derivative of vitamin C known as sodium ascorbyl phosphate has all the benefits of Vitamin C without the problems. It is very soothing and healing especially on areas of sore inflamed skin. http://www.naturalwisdom.co.uk/Vitamin-C-Skincare...

Calendula- A well known and well trusted skin soother and healer. 10 drops of Calendula tincture in a bowl of warm water applied to skin several times a day is effective at reducing .

♥ Calendula cream and ointment is also excellent but care must be taken to make sure there are no essential oils present and that the Calendula is CO2 extracted and not macerated which may be too weak to be effective and not an alcohol extract which can add to skin irritation.

Hypericum- This is a herb that has antiseptic and soothing properties similar to calendula. see above.

Chamomile- A study done by Flavex showed that 1% CO2 extracted Chamomile extract was as effective as a 0.25% corticosteroid cream. I have seen first hand the healing results of herbs in my practice as a homeopath and formulator of skincare. Chamomile CO2 extract in a Balm in a saviour for sore inflamed skin conditions and when combined with other soothing antiseptic anti inflammatory herbs the synergistic effects combine to be naturally healing and protecting.

Chickweed- I first came across this herb in 1994 looking for a cream to help my daughters eczema. I have been using it ever since.It takes the heat out of the skin, reducing the redness and inflammation. http://www.naturalwisdom.co.uk/product-p/cccbalm....

I hope this is useful.

© Maeve Smith 2014